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Intruder accessed Air Force One base due to complacent guard, malfunctioning gate, IG report says

Air Force C-40. (Air Force photo/Released)
March 12, 2021

A new Air Force inspector general report released Thursday revealed how an intruder gained access on Feb. 4 to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the base of presidential aircraft Air Force One, and remained there for hours before getting caught.

The Department of the Air Force Inspector General report found that a security guard’s complacency and failure to check an intruder’s credentials as one of three key security failures that enabled the incident.

“A fully qualified and trained Security Forces gate guard was complacent and failed to follow established procedures,” the report states. “Specifically, the guard did not utilize his DBIDS scanner to check the civilian’s credentials and failed to properly identify that the civilian did not have proper authorization to enter the base.”

During the breach, the intruder gained access to the base flight line and even accessed an executive transport aircraft operated by the same Air Force unit in charge of Air Force One. The incident took place the day before President Joe Biden was set to fly for the first time aboard the presidential transport aircraft.

In addition to the security guard who failed the check the intruder’s credentials, the report noted a malfunctioning gate at an entry control point was left partially open, allowing the intruder to walk onto the base flight line. The gate malfunction reportedly occurred on Feb. 2, two days before the intruder entered the base. Five different people used the partially open gate five times between Feb. 2 and Feb. 4, and according to the report, “None of those users identified that the exit section of the gate was partially open.”

The third breakdown in security procedures occurred when base personnel working on the flight line failed to stop the intruder. The intruder reportedly wore dark pants, a dark jacket, black high-top sneakers,
and carried a brown backpack. According to the report, the intruder’s clothing resembled the uniforms civilian maintenance personnel at the base wear, dark blue pants and tops and black boots.

One clothing feature that would have distinguished the intruder from authorized civilian maintenance personnel, was the light red or pink hat the intruder wore that had “distinctive balls on top that looked a little like mouse ears.”

Despite the passing resemblance the intruder’s clothing had to civilian maintenance workers, the report states “there is an expectation that anyone on the flight line without a visible restricted area badge will be challenged and detained until Security Forces responds. Specifically, the local guidance
states, ‘Every person working within the flight line area is responsible for assisting with airfield protection.’”

Personnel on the flight line did not initially stop the intruder, who had no restricted area badge.

After walking the flightline, the intruder boarded a C-40 Clipper transport aircraft that was open for aircrew training. Two aircrew members training on the aircraft did not notice the intruder did not have a badge. The intruder stayed on the aircraft for a few minutes before exiting. After leaving the aircraft, the intruder was stopped by security personnel with the 316th Security Forces Squadron.

The intruder was unarmed and did not harm any personnel throughout his time on the base. The report states investigators found no evidence the intruder intended to harm personnel or equipment and at no point was the security of the aircraft threatened.